Travel Diary Alaska// DAY 0 – Flights

A journey of a thousand miles begins with an oversized army surplus duffel crammed with all the junk you think you’ll need but at the expense of some other junk you forgot but will ACTUALLY need and have to purchase at a Walmart in Anchorage

Irish-American Proverb

Hometowns

There is something comforting about traveling out of one’s hometown airport, particularly if it represents the beginning of a long journey that promises adventure, or at least what represents adventure to the traveler.

Actually, I don’t know this to be a fact. What I do know is that my home air hub, the Louisville Muhammad Ali International Airport (heretofor referred to as “The Ali” because it’s shorter and it has not a small amount of swagger), is comforting, to me if no one else. It’s small and simple (some might call it “quaint” or “cute” or “not a REAL airport”), and even at times of peak travel rush, is not intimidating to those of us who loathe hurried foot-traffic congestion and the confusion that accompanies it.

A grand total of two terminals mean that even if one walks completely to the wrong end of the airport in search of a gate, they can be back to the correct side within approximately three minutes. If you find yourself with much of a layover in The Ali, and you’d like to get your steps in, there’s no better way than to walk from one end to the other, a journey sure to add at least 500 said steps to your daily total. (As opposed to, say Chicago O’Hare, where you could walk so long you lose all sense of time and space, and swear you’re going to pop up from one of the neon-lit underground walkways into a corn field in northern Indiana.)

As for amenities, perhaps it is nice to have 15 Starbucks to choose from, but I know where The Ali’s Starbucks is, positioned right in the, er, groin of the aforementioned two terminal legs, an equal opportunity server of those passing through our city (and a half-way point for power walking refreshment.) Add a horse racing themed shop, a bourbon store, a glorified news stand, and a store dedicated to Louisville’s eponymous baseball bat brand, and you more or less have everything you need to declare what a truly fine city it is.

“Hey honey. Where did you connect through?”

“The Ali.”

“Oh, isn’t that where they make good bourbon, wooden baseball bats, race horses and champion boxers?”

Pulls out a fifth of Woodford Reserve, a miniature Louisville Slugger, a bust of Secretariat and a Snickers bar purchased at an Airport named for Muhammed Ali

“YEAH it is!”

I jest (excluding the fine city part – none is finer), but of course it makes sense for a local airport to entice travelers, particularly those passing through, with advertisements and samples of the local fare. And we have some really nice exports.

We have bourbon

Purpose and Pre-Checks

The purpose of this trip is to listen to God and observe nature and build cabins and fish in ice cold streams of water. Four things that I’m not particularly good at. But I’m with people who are, so that’s sure to count for something. I’m also not a “seasoned” traveller, although I enjoy most of the journey.

Aside from the extreme early-ness of the hour, 6 AM is a good time to fly out of anywhere, particularly a smaller airport like The Ali. The lines are short, parking is easy, and the TSA agents are still groggy enough to not be overly concerned if you fail to push the little bin through the x-ray machine in the right orientation or forget that for some reason you have a penny – a single penny! – in your pocket. I also feel pretty sure that the man looking at my naked 3-D body on the screen has not had enough coffee to notice how unflattering my body must look on a 3-D screen. On second thought, I’m sure he sees enough unflattering naked bodies to not give mine a second thought.

One of our travel mates has what’s known as “Pre-check” status. Essentially it’s what it sounds like: he’s been previously checked out and found to be a good guy. This allows him to get special treatment in the security line. I would have imagined that, at 5 AM, it would have been a dubious distinction, that we would go down different security chutes and end up at the same spot, at the same time. But this is 5 AM on the Friday of a holiday weekend, so the distinction is palpable. My travel companion was through security and sitting in a rustic rocking chair while the rest of us were still in line and had already been violated by the world’s oldest bomb hound.

It’s comforting traveling with people who know what they are doing, particularly if you’re going to a relatively rugged part of the world. As our destination comes into view I realize that, while I love my fellow travelers, I’m taking them at their word that they actually know what they’re doing. I’ve never seen them navigate the stony beaches of an isolated Kodiak Island, nor have they demonstrated for me the ability to take out a bear with one of the handguns they carry, particularly a bear that’s chasing me!

Something to think about.

I guess this is a trip of faith, in more ways than one.


Next stop: Kodiak, AK

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